“Tell me lies and lullabies but don’t tell me to change.” – Rhye, Last Dance
A year ago today, me and 100-150 of my friends and colleagues were laid off. Months later, a friend would call it The Red Wedding in conversation. I laughed a hearty gallows laugh at that idea. The Rains of Castamere didn’t play and, all things considered, it could’ve been worse: it was over quickly; most, if not all, of us got soft landings from the Company; the vast majority of my colleagues that I keep in touch with are working again and began work pretty close to their own needs & timetables. It was still traumatic, though.
But, you know me, I’m not one to dwell.
I do, however, want to take stock of what I learned and am still processing in the aftermath.
1. Letting your personal identity be dominated by where you work is a trap. Jobs come and go. You, what you do, how you do it, and how you treat people while you do it remains. And, more than that, I’m continuing to realize how important it is for me to lead a big life outside of the office rather than being overly focused on being big within it.
2. Beloved brands and great content do matter. Outside of the people, the thing I most miss about that gig is the constant delight around the types of stories we were trying to tell and showcase. That, and the dogged obsession with creating and presenting great, uplifting content, isn’t everywhere. It’s hard to do and sustain.
3. I’m still figuring out what I want work to mean for me. I know I like doing work that I’m proud of that people I respect will respect. I know I like solving strategic problems. I know I like helping to tell stories. I know what that looks like for me today. What I don’t know is what I want that to look like three or five or ten years down the line.
4. Life goes on. I’ve been laid off twice in my career. Outside of a few moments to mourn and acknowledge the change, the rest of my life quickly filled in where work had been. Real stuff that matters keeps happening: Illness and death; little victories and moments of joy. The people and issues that I care about got the attention they deserve. I am learning to keep that in balance with the needs of work.
A year ago today, I attended The Red Wedding and survived. A year later, I feel more balanced and more thoughtful about my days and actions. A year later, I’m just as optimistic about the future and more aware of the realities of work.
Twelve months does wonders for perspective.